Samoans in The Arts
"BLACK FAGGOT" raises the Gay issue and gender bending conflicts within Pacific Islander Communities.
"Black Faggot" Review by Uo Alaalatoa Brown and Helen Lauaki .
The Auckland and Melbourne 2013 Fringe Festival Award Winning Play was at the Brisbane Powerhouse this past week, ending on Saturday, February 22nd.
Written by Kiwi-Samoan Playwright, Victor Rodger, "Black Faggot" is a well-articulated, humorous and poignant set of monologues performed by two actors in multiple roles. Rodger's whose mother is Kiwi of Scottish decent and father is Samoan wrote the play when he saw a homophobic rally in Auckland.
Being a gay growing up in NZ, he has set the play in Auckland's Pacific Island Communities. Actors, Iaheto Ah Hi and Taofia Pelesasa give brilliant performances and portrayals of men conflicted with their sexual orientation. Dealing with denial and acceptance, the story illustrates a brilliant weave of the characters' experiences with family and friends. It conveyed a powerful message about the struggles of Faafafine (Gay Samoan men) growing up in NZ, spicing the script with humour which hyped up the audience.
There were also moments of sadness and compassion for the characters. One should have an open mind when watching as the Play gives people the opportunity to see how one lives and deals with this type of challenge.
(Rating is R16. Contains strong coarse language and raw material not suitable for young children and the faint-hearted.)
Favorable reviews for Nick Afoa's Lion King in Sydney
By Stage Whispers
Based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, along with the musical by Hans Zimmer and choral arrangements by Lebo M. Director: Julie Taymor. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening Night: December 12, 2013.
If you’ve never seen The Lion King before, the artistry of many of the scenes on the plains of Africa will dazzle you, but those having a second bite might notice a few meows have crept in amidst the roars.
Most in the opening night audience were expecting the carnival of animals to descend on the stage for the famous introductory number Circle of Life, but it was still a thrill to be amongst the throng of wild beasts.
The elegance of the puppets, when the antelope bounced amidst the mobile grasslands, or menace when a herd of buffalo go on a rampage, combined with the sweet music of mother Africa, remained the highlight of the production.
But since it opened on Broadway in 1997 and went on to conquer the musical theatre world, there have been many developments in puppetry which no longer make The Lion King quite the sensation is was then.
Some of the scene changes now also feel on the slow side.
And the melting pot of cast sporting South African, New Zealand, Australian and American accents did not always gel.
But let’s focus on the positive.
Buyi Zama as Rafiki sets a thrilling tone; with her native South African roots she brought a real sense of excitement to the opening.
Rob Collins was elegant as Mufasa and Josh Quong Tart always menacing as his evil brother Scar, whilst the ‘clowns’ Cameron Goodall as the bird Zazu, Jamie McGregor as the meerkat Timon and Russell Dykstra as the warthog Pumbaa never missed a gag.
But the stand out for stage charisma was Nick Afoa as the grown up Simba.
Plucked from obscurity as a rugby-playing crooner, his casting was a gamble which paid off handsomely. He sang beautifully and bounced across the stage like spring, with the drama of the moment infused into every sinew of his ample frame.
Mr Disney why don’t you have his image on your posters around town instead of the out-of-town lead depicted on them at the moment?
Seeing The Lion King once is a must for every musical theatre buff, but they need a reason to see it a second time.
The most important theatrical production by a Samoan is now on stage in Auckland, New Zealand.
This is a dark story of a love affair relationship between Richard Wallace - a New Zealand palagi military police officer, and Sinalei - a daughter and a house-girl to her father Tupua Tamasese during the Mau period in the early 1920s.
Their love relationship began when the two met by accident. This was the beginning of many encounters to follow which lead to Sina falling heavily in love, but at the same time blinded by what was happening around her and her people.
Richard Wallace was a ranking police officer which gave him power to make his own decision and organise his own hidden agenda. He influences many innocent Samoan people by bribing them with food and money for information on the Mau front.
This is a powerful story of love, jealousy, hate, lies, deception and killing of a man who has a legacy of peace that has made him a Samoan icon.
The depictment and the re-enactment of Samoa’s darkest day in our proud history - the black Saturday when Afioga Tama-Aiga Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III was gunned down on Beach Road Apia, during a peaceful march to show resistance to the injustice that the New Zealand Government dished out to our people. They brought the Law and broke their own rule of law. But a beautiful love affair emerged when Sina met the Visitor in the midst of all trouble on the land of paradise.
Tears will naturally fill your eyes and rolling down your cheeks, mixed emotions will run high, your laughter will filter the air until you cry again. That’s how powerful this story is. It is our story to be told. Will that love affair survive? Will Sina’s loyalty endure to the end to the only man she ever really loved in her life or will she go with the Visitor that betrayed her father and the people of Samoa to live the good life in Aotearoa?
While the story climax to the killing of Tupua Tamasese in the end, there are many other historical events of the Mau being re-enacted in this play in order to provide that direct linkage into the heart of ‘the Mau’. “My blood has been spilt for Samoa. I am proud to give it. Do not dream of avenging it, as it was spilt in peace. If I die, peace must be maintained at any price.”
This is a powerful story of our history, love, jealousy, hate, lies, deception and killing of a man who has a legacy of peace that has made him a Samoan icon.
Come and join the journey with us as we take you down to memory lane of Samoa’s history of solitude, human strength, the strength of the spirit, the undying faith and hope as Samoa’s freedom was bought by blood spilled for its people to remain self-governed and respected by the outside world.
Come and watch ‘The Mau & the visitor’... you will remember this for the rest of your life - and you’ll be pleased that you came because out of all the stories of Samoa - this one is a legacy left behind by our brave forefathers that you would want your children to know. Let us tell it to our children. They deserve it. It is their story and history too.
The Cast: Mark Webley, Sam Iosefo, Popo Lilo, Ally Tupuola, Toafa Te’o, Lagi Chan-Farani, Savea Al Harrington Lavea, Robert Enari, Kit Alofa, Georgia Alofa, Caitlyn Alofa, Canada Alofa McCarthy, Joe Folau, Nuuali’I Niu Sila, Opa Auelua, Popo Lilo, Ally Tupuola, Toafa Te’o, Lagi Chan-Farani, Stacey Te’o, Liam Alofa McCarthy
Director/Writer: Pulotu Canada Alofa McCarthy
Producer: Pacific Voice Productions & Theatre Company 2013